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Nightcrawler

Real name: Kurt Wagner
Other aliases: None
Identity: Secret
Occupation: Adventurer
Legal status: Criminal record in the United States, later overturned by the courts; still wanted internationally as an outlaw
Place of birth: Somewhere in the Bavarian Alps
Marital status: Single
Known relatives: Eric Wagner (father, deceased), Margali Szardos (foster mother), Jimaine Szardos (Daytripper, alias Amanda Sefton, foster sister), Stefan Szardos (foster brother, deceased). The name of Wagner's mother, who was presumed to be deceased, is not known for certain, though it may be the mutant Mystique.
Base of operations: Muir Island, Scotland
Group affiliation: Excalibur, (formerly) X-Men
First appearance: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1

History: Kurt Wagner was born with certain unusual physical characteristics, but his power of self-teleportation did not emerge until puberty. Margali Szardos, a sorceress and gypsy queen, found Wagner an hour after his birth, in a small roadside shelter in the Bavarian Alps. She found his father, Eric Wagner, dead of a heart attack on the road outside. Margali is said to have found Wagner's mother lying next to the baby and dying, but this assertion has been called into question, and not even Kurt Wagner knows the truth. Margali took the baby to the small Bavarian circus where she worked as a fortuneteller as a "cover" for her activities as a sorceress. Wagner was never legally adopted by anyone, but was raised by all the members of the circus, who had no prejudices against "freaks." Margali acted as Wagner's unofficial foster mother.

Wagner grew up happily in the circus, and his two closest friends were Margali's natural children Stefan and Jimaine. Long before his teleportation power emerged, Wagner had tremendous natural agility, and by his adolescence he had become the circus's star acrobat and aerial artist. Circus audiences assumed that he was a normal-looking human being wearing a demon-like costume.

Years later, the Texas millionaire Arnos Jardine, who ran a large circus based in Florida, heard of the circus Wagner worked for and bought it. Jardine intended to move its best acts into his American circus. However, he demanded that Wagner be placed in the circus's freak show. Appalled, Wagner quit and made his way towards Winzeldorf, Germany, where Stefan was. He discovered that Stefan had gone mad and had brutally slain several children. Two nights after leaving the circus, Wagner found Stefan and fought him, hoping to stop his rampage. In the course of the struggle, Wagner unintentionally broke Stefan's neck. Then the villagers of Winzeldorf, who assumed him to be a demon who was responsible for the child killings, discovered Wagner. They were about to kill him when they were all psionically paralyzed by Professor Charles Xavier, who had come to recruit Wagner into the X-Men. Wagner agreed to join the group, but before they left for America, he and Xavier went to the Bavarian circus so that Wagner could explain to Margali about Stefan's death. However, Margali was not there. She held Wagner responsible for murdering Stefan, but years later, she learned the truth and she and Wagner were reconciled. Wagner was also happily reunited with Jimaine, who now lives in the United States under the name of Amanda Sefton. Known as Nightcrawler, Wagner became a member of the X-Men.

Nightcrawler remained with the X-Men for years. Eventually, however, he became a founding member of the British-based team Excalibur and is now the team's leader.

Wagner has recently been told that his mother is the mutant known as Mystique. To save her own life, she claims she had to toss the newborn child into a waterfall, yet Mystique may have wanted to mislead Wagner and may not actually be his birth mother. Wagner now believes that his mother is Mystique and when and if new information comes to light it is not known how Wagner will react to the news, or to Mystique.

Height: 5 ft. 9 in.
Weight: 195 lbs.
Eyes: Shining yellow, no visible pupils
Hair: Indigo
Other distinguishing features: Nightcrawler has only 3 fingers (including an opposable thumb) on each hand, and only 2 toes, each longer than an ordinary human's, on each foot. Nightcrawler also has a prehensile tail about 3 1/2 feet long, which can carry his own weight. His body is almost entirely covered with a fine indigo-colored fur, making him so dark that he seems to blend into deep shadows. (Contrary to appearances, he does not literally turn invisible in deep shadow.) Nightcrawler also has pointed ears and pronounced fang-like canine teeth. His spine is more flexible than an ordinary human being's, allowing him to spend much of his time in a semi-crouching position without damaging his posture and enables him to perform contortionist-like feats.

Strength level: Nightcrawler possesses at least the normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise.

Known superhuman powers: Nightcrawler is a mutant with the ability to teleport himself, the clothes he is wearing, and, within limits, a certain amount of additional mass which is in contact with him. He teleports by displacing himself into another dimension (the nature of which is as yet unknown), travelling through it, and then returning to his own dimension at a certain distance from his point of departure. He consciously determines his point of return. The entire process occurs so quickly that Nightcrawler is unaware of being in another dimension at all. Nightcrawler guides himself through the other dimension by an unconscious, natural direction-finding sense. Although Nightcrawler controls his teleportational ability with his conscious mind, his power to teleport is not psionic. Rather it is the result of an unknown biochemical/biophysical reaction which he triggers mentally.

When he disappears in teleporting, Nightcrawler leaves behind smoke with a stench reminiscent of burning brimstone. This is a small portion of the atmosphere of this other dimension that escapes while the aperture is open. His teleportation is invariably accompanied by the muffled sound of imploding air rushing to fill the vacuum left where Nightcrawler's volume was.The longer the distance over which Nightcrawler teleports himself, the harder and more exhausting it is for him to make the teleportational "jump." It is easier for him to teleport between north and south (along Earth's magnetic lines of force) than it is for him to teleport between east and west (against the magnetic lines). Under optimal conditions, teleporting only himself and his costume, Nightcrawler can displace himself a distance of about 2 miles east-to-west, and up to 3 miles north-to-south. Making a vertical teleportation upwards is difficult and dangerous. Nightcrawler has made a vertical teleportational "jump" of 2 miles by pushing himself to his physical limits.

Nightcrawler has a very limited unconscious extrasensory ability that prevents him from teleporting himself so that his feet, for example, would materialize below the surface of the local ground. Because this ability is so limited, however, Nightcrawler will not teleport into any place that he cannot see or has not seen in the past. If Nightcrawler teleported himself into an unfamiliar area, he would run the risk of materializing partially or entirely within a solid object. If too much of his body materialized within a solid object, he would probably be killed.

Nightcrawler's powers automatically displace liquids and gases when he arrives in the course of a teleportation. Nightcrawler's momentum is retained throughout the process of teleportation: he arrives with whatever amount of inertia he left with. For example, if he were falling from a great height, he could not teleport himself towards the ground in order to save himself; he would land with the same velocity that he teleported with. He can subtract this inertia by teleporting short distances upwards (as though taking two steps back for every one forward).

The limits to the amount of weight that Nightcrawler can carry with himself while teleporting, and the limits to the range of distance over which he can teleport himself with such additional loads, are unknown. When he transports a passenger over even moderate distances, they both feel weakened and ill, to the point of exhaustion. Teleportation over further distances could be fatal. Through practice, Nightcrawler has increased the mass he can teleport with him. (He once teleported himself and Storm from the center of a small island into the water just off its coast without harming either of them). The upper limits of this capacity are as yet unknown.

Other abilities: Nightcrawler is a superb athlete and an Olympic-class acrobat. He can do a standing high jump of about 8 feet. He is skilled at hand-to-hand combat and is a master at fencing, which he can even perform with his tail.

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